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Lessons in seeing

Finding images means finding oneself as an artist. Despite an intense desire to photograph, a random collection from random locations generally does not add up to much. There are two choices: take lessons or just begin looking and shooting. I was averse to lessons for two reasons, one good and one not. First I was afraid to embarrass myself, second I wanted to develop my own way of seeing. The latter was good and ultimately essential I believe. However, something like this must evolve.

So I built my traveling studio on a pack frame, quit golfing lessons and followed whatever ideas came to mind. The following is a list in roughly chronological order. “Roughly” means that many of these overlapped.

1. Vistas: The top of Mount Mansfield in Vermont.
I used to ski there because my first wife was from Vermont and the view was spectacular and you could drive to the top. But once I got there I realized that anything short of a 200 foot mural would not be interesting nor do it justice.

2. Hiking in the woods. It is literally true, you can’t see the forest for the trees. I found two images: one of tree trunks and ferns, and an accidental unusual situation on Martha’s Vinyard off the coast of Massachusetts.

3. The National Parks: Ultimately I one of my favorite locations became Acadia National Park in Maine,, but these were all intimate scenes, rarely if ever photographed. The national parks of the west were spectacular but it was soon clear to me you either had to visit often and stay for a while or you got images that looked like those taken by many other photographers.

Looking back over decades of photographing, I never once found another photographer shooting the same subjects as I was shooting. In comparison, a friend and very fine photographer told me of shooting a sunrise on Mono Lake in California, He told me there were about 50 other tripods in the water.

I photographed for seven years, occasionally finding images I liked, before things came together.

The cover of Eliot Porter’s Intimate Landscapes, Redbud Tree In Bottomland with the subject, the Redbud Tree, almost disappearing into the background got a strong reaction from me confirmed when I attended his exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. That was followed by a happy accident when I discovered overlooks on the Massachusetts Turnpike beginning a decades-long search along along Interstate Highways and ordinary roadsides. What followed you can see by clicking on “LOCATIONS.”

Detail & Texture

Keeping your composure

As you might gather from looking through my galleries often or even seldom it is hard to pin down a center of interest, and certainly not an object (light houses are a good example) because looking back ofter years of experimenting I found myself looking for texture: water droplets, arrays of grass, ripples on water and so forth and these fascinated me. Nay, I should say I loved them. And so I began to look first for texture and then the challenge was to make a composition. The water-shields with dew drops at Walden and the reeds at Upper Hadlock pond in Maine are good examples. This in turn meant lensess that excelled in capturing fine detail and at the time (I think in the late 1980s) I came across the APO Nikkor, especially the 200mm. These are simple lenses of the tessar design, slow (f8) limited swings and tilts, and sharp. And so texture became something I could capture.

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